Pope Francis is the son of Italian immigrants so, migrants and refugees have always been at the heart of his concerns.
Therefore, before the world put their eyes on this drama, he did. His first trip outside of Rome was to Lampedusa, the Italian island that hosts thousands of victims of "forced migration.” It was also one of the first times he spoke of the "globalization of indifference.”
July 8, 2013
"We are a society that has forgotten the experience of crying and the 'suffering' with the 'globalization of indifference.”
He even used harsh words about the tragedies at sea, as when 368 people died asphyxiated on a barge in October 2013.
October 3, 2013
"I can not remember without pain, the many victims of the tragic shipwreck in Lampedusa today. I can only think of the word, shame: it's a shame!”
The Pope met with survivors and confessed that it was hard to find the right words when speaking to them.
The Pope's message on immigration is clear: We should not build walls but bridges. There is no need to close the doors, we must open them. So he asked each parish to take in a family of refugees.
September 6, 2015
"May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every shrine of Europe welcome one family, starting from my diocese of Rome.”
Even though they account for a larger statistical count of refugees since World War II, they are not numbers, they are people.
February 18, 2016
"This crisis which can be measured in numbers and statistics, we want instead to measure with names, stories, families.”
It was here, in Ciudad Juarez, where the Pope had one of the most significant gestures to migrants: Prayer at the border between Mexico and the United States for so many who lost their lives trying to improve it.
In late 2014, the Pope visited European institutions. He prophetically said these words, before some that decided that Europe must massively deport refugees.
November 25, 2014
"Dear Members of the European Parliament, the time has come to build together the Europe that does not turn around the economy but to the sacredness of the human person, of the inalienable values.”
In 2015, more than one million people arrived by sea to European shores. They come from Syria, Iraqi and Afghanistan, mostly fleeing the bombs or the Islamic State. As of 2016, the number of migrants has grown to more than 140,000. They are people that Europe has decided brush aside and close its doors on them, forgetting the foundation that the European Union was found on in the midst of the aftermath caused by World War II.